Mount Rainier dominates the skyline from the eastern edge of the Wonderland Trail seen in 2008. In the future, it may be packed with people keeping their heads buried in their smart phones. (Jessi Loerch / Herald file)

Mount Rainier dominates the skyline from the eastern edge of the Wonderland Trail seen in 2008. In the future, it may be packed with people keeping their heads buried in their smart phones. (Jessi Loerch / Herald file)

Is it natural to want cell service on Mount Rainier?

How do you improve Paradise?

You may think Mount Rainier is already perfect, but Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile say they can make it even better. The National Park Service is considering their request to install equipment at Paradise Visitors Center so they can provide cellphone service on the mountain.

Their original idea to include visible antennas and towers was shot down faster than you can say, “Can you hear me now?” So they propose to put the needed equipment in the visitors center attic, safely out of nature lovers’ sight.

Just think of all the benefits of cell service at Rainier. If you’re in the middle of a rousing game of Fruit Ninja with your friends, there’s no need to leave them hanging just so you can admire some wildflowers. If you happen across an adorable marmot, you can Instagram it right away to show your followers how outdoorsy you are. And if you wander off the trail and get lost because of all those distractions, help is just an embarrassing phone call away.

With so many benefits, who would say no?

Close to half of our online poll respondents, apparently. In our latest survey at HeraldNet.com, we asked whether the request should be allowed, and 55 percent said yes, 45 percent no.

There would be some legitimate safety benefits to having better cell coverage on the mountain, but here, I suspect, is the reason for resistance: Mobile devices have made us all just a little more annoying. Our phones chirp and buzz as we walk along, talking, texting and tweeting with little regard for those around us. We make such a nuisance of ourselves that people drive for hours and go thousands of feet up a mountain to escape it all.

If the phone companies get their way, you’ll soon be able to spot those poor escapists in your Facebook feed, flipping you the bird.

— Doug Parry: parryracer@gmail.com, @parryracer

Hard pivot incoming… With the seemingly trivial notion of cell service on a mountain behind us, we turn your attention toward Olympia and a growing swell to end the death penalty.


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